If you are a fan of morning TV shows like The View or The Today Show, you have probably seen Dr. Ian Smith presenting medical advice in his unique, personable style. You may also have seen him on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, or chatting with Tyra Banks or Larry King. His recently published book, The 4 Day Diet follows two others, The Fat Smash Diet and Extreme Fat Smash.
The subtitle of The 4 Day Diet is "Be Thinner by Friday," which of course leads the reader to believe that he or she can actually make significant fat loss progress over the course of just four days. A closer examination of the concept of the book makes it obvious that this is not necessarily true, however. Here is a summary of the principles Dr. Ian uses and the reason his plan was given its 4-Day name.
The Basic Premise
Dr. Smith devotes quite a bit of attention to the mental and psychological aspects of weight loss. His theory is that many diets fail because the user gets tired of the boredom and repetition that most plans require. Another stumbling block he attempts to address is the frustration people feel when their body adjusts to their fat loss efforts and they reach a plateau in their weight. His plan attempts to solve those problems by having the dieter change his approach to eating every four days.
This is obviously where the name of the diet was derived, but rather than stopping your diet after four days, you switch to a different "module" that allows you to eat different foods. There are seven modules outlined in the 4-Day Diet, so that you cycle through them approximately once a month. Dr. Ian theorizes that this approach will keep the dieter interested and motivated, because none of the eating regimens last too long. It will also keep the body "guessing" as to what kinds of foods to expect and therefore help to keep the metabolism humming along at a good clip, something that is vital for fat loss.
The seven modules are named as follows:
Induction: for cleansing and detoxification.
Transition: to resume eating from all the basic food groups.
Protein Stretch: to help avoid hitting a plateau.
Smooth: a phase where you can have some formerly prohibited foods like pizza.
Push: back to a strict eating plan.
Pace: a more relaxed module.
Vigorous: the final module to help lose the last few pounds.
Dr. Ian says you should follow the first two phases in order. After that you can cycle through them the way they are listed here, or you can switch them around in a customized plan to suit your own needs.
Smith puts a lot of emphasis on the intellectual aspects of fat loss and even goes so far as to say that only about 20% of losing weight is a physical challenge. The other 80% of the effort must come from the mind. He instructs his readers in techniques such as visualization, understanding stress eating, identifying emotional eating, and goal setting to help them conquer the mental parts of their struggle. He also recommends that users try to find a "diet buddy" to help them stay motivated and hold them accountable.
As a medical doctor, Smith also puts an emphasis on the importance of exercise. He says that a daily workout of some kind is so beneficial for overall health that he would recommend it even if it did not help in the fat loss battle. He does believe, however, that exercise is the key to revving up your metabolism and is the thing that will help you keep the weight off once you have lost it.
Because Dr. Ian is a trained physician, following his plan is unlikely to cause you any harm. You will be eating a wide variety of foods, which nearly all nutritionists recommend for a healthy lifestyle. The 4 Day Diet is neither low-fat nor low-carb. Instead, it limits calories. A look at the sample meal plans reveals an emphasis on lean protein, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, and fresh produce. He also includes foods high in Essential Fatty Acids like nuts and avocados.
If you realize that there is a large mental or emotional component to your struggles with weight, you may be interested in what Smith has to say about this area. Most dieters will be glad for any help they can get in the areas of inspiration and motivation, and his writing style is so friendly and personal that it satisfies this need.
I am impressed with the fact that Dr. Smith does not seem to be interested in parlaying his diet plan into a huge moneymaking empire. His book retails for a reasonable $16.00 and unlike so many other "diet doctors" he does not offer any supplements, diet kits, or other products that may be of questionable usefulness. There is a lot of free information available to users on his 50 Million Pound Challenge website, as well.
The 4 Day Diet does not appear to make any allowances for the differences in the size, age, or gender of its users. It is kind of a one-size-fits-all approach. It will also not appeal to anyone who likes to get in a routine when following a fat loss plan. If you like to know well in advance what you will be eating, and not have to think about it too much, you may not like this program.
Overall, I think that Dr. Ian has some interesting concepts and that his plan may benefit some dieters. Smith has some very common sense ideas when it comes to reducing boredom, maintaining motivation, and keeping things interesting. However, I would recommend another plan that uses some of the same principles and has worked very well for me. Fat Loss 4 Idiots also allows for a variety of foods without the necessity of counting calories carbs, or fat. It addresses the boredom and deprivation problems of dieting by allowing me to have three free days after following the plan for eleven days. During this time I can eat whatever I like, as long as I don't stuff myself. It is an online plan that allows me to generate an eleven-day menu that uses 30 of my favorite foods. I just eat the simple, plain foods in the combinations that are laid out for me. When the eleven days are up, I enjoy my free days, then go back to the website to generate another plan using different foods, if I wish. Fat Loss 4 Idiots keeps me interested and motivated, and best of all it works well to help me achieve my fat loss and overall health goals. Check out this great plan here.